Bouncing Back

Finding New Strategies for Bouncing Back

When it comes to developing better  resilience  in the face of uncertainty and failures, both self-awareness and political awareness are key.  Whereas self-awareness helps you understand the messages you’re sending, political awareness helps you understand the messages others are receiving. It requires you to know how your organization defines, explains and assigns responsibility for failure, as well as how the system allows for remedial attempts.  When I'm coaching executives, ( coaching4ldrs.com ) we work a lot on developing personal awareness. Personal awareness involves finding the right way to approach mistakes within your organization and understanding your role. This process includes soul care. Taking time with God to explore where we fall short is the road to humility which often is the character trait necessary as a foundation for bouncing back.  Once you’ve become more aware of your failure response style (and your bad habits), you can move toward more open and adaptive behaviors.  Business consultants Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan suggest several effective steps in  “Can You Handle Failure?”  ( Harvard Business Review , April 2011).  Practice these strategies the next time mistakes and failures present challenges:   ·  Listen and communicate.  Most of us forget to gather enough feedback and information before reacting, especially when it comes to bad news. Never assume you know what others are thinking or that you understand them until you ask good questions.  ·  Reflect on both the situation and the   people.  We’re good at picking up patterns and making assumptions. Remember, however, that each situation is unique and has context.  ·  Think before you act.  You don’t have to respond immediately or impulsively. You can always make things worse by overreacting in a highly charged situation.  ·  Search for a lesson.  Look for nuance and context. Sometimes a colleague or a group is at fault, sometimes you are, and sometimes no one is to blame. Create and test hypotheses about why the failure occurred to prevent it from happening again.

When it comes to developing better resilience in the face of uncertainty and failures, both self-awareness and political awareness are key.

Whereas self-awareness helps you understand the messages you’re sending, political awareness helps you understand the messages others are receiving. It requires you to know how your organization defines, explains and assigns responsibility for failure, as well as how the system allows for remedial attempts.

When I'm coaching executives, (coaching4ldrs.com) we work a lot on developing personal awareness. Personal awareness involves finding the right way to approach mistakes within your organization and understanding your role. This process includes soul care. Taking time with God to explore where we fall short is the road to humility which often is the character trait necessary as a foundation for bouncing back.

Once you’ve become more aware of your failure response style (and your bad habits), you can move toward more open and adaptive behaviors.

Business consultants Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan suggest several effective steps in “Can You Handle Failure?” (Harvard Business Review, April 2011).

Practice these strategies the next time mistakes and failures present challenges:

· Listen and communicate. Most of us forget to gather enough feedback and information before reacting, especially when it comes to bad news. Never assume you know what others are thinking or that you understand them until you ask good questions.

· Reflect on both the situation and the people. We’re good at picking up patterns and making assumptions. Remember, however, that each situation is unique and has context.

· Think before you act. You don’t have to respond immediately or impulsively. You can always make things worse by overreacting in a highly charged situation.

· Search for a lesson. Look for nuance and context. Sometimes a colleague or a group is at fault, sometimes you are, and sometimes no one is to blame. Create and test hypotheses about why the failure occurred to prevent it from happening again.

How to Learn from Our Mistakes

“ That which does not kill us makes us stronger .” ~  Friedrich Nietzsche   Failure is one of life’s most common traumas, yet people’s responses to it vary widely. Many managers have learned to reframe personal and departmental setbacks by stating: “There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities”—and it’s a great sentiment. In practice, however, their companies often continue to view failures in the most negative light.  Part of the problem lies in our natural tendency to blame. We perceive and react to failure inappropriately. How can we learn anything if our energy is tied up in either assigning or avoiding blame? Still others overreact with self-criticism, which leads to stagnation and fears of taking future risks.  One of the common things that come up frequently in my coaching sessions ( coaching4ldrs.com ) is dealing with mistakes and the excessive blaming that goes on in the work place.  In the 1930s, psychologist  Saul Rosenzweig  proposed three broad personality categories for how we experience anger and frustration:  1.  Extrapunitive : Prone to unfairly blame others  2.  Impunitive : Denies that failure has occurred or one’s own role in it  3.  Intropunitive : Judges self too harshly and imagines failures where none exist  Extrapunitive responses are common in the business world. Because of socialization and other gender influences, women are more likely to be intropunitive.  Fortunately, managers at all organizational levels can repair their flawed responses to failure. Business consultants Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan suggest several highly effective steps in  “Can You Handle Failure?”  ( Harvard Business Review , April 2011):   Cultivate Self-Awareness   First, identify which of the three blaming styles you use. (Note: They occur automatically and immediately, so they are unconscious emotional responses.)  1. Do you look to blame others?  2. Deny blame?  3. Blame yourself?  It’s hard for us to see our own personalities clearly, let alone our flaws. It’s harder still to learn from our mistakes if we’re caught up in the blame game.  Next, take at least one self-assessment test to help broaden your view of your interaction style. Two popular assessments are the  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator  and the  Big Five Personality Test . (You can take a free version online at  personal.psu.edu/j5j/IPIP/ipipneo120.htm .)  Finally, work with a coach or mentor ( coaching4ldrs.com ) to improve your level of self-awareness. While it takes some time to shine a light on our attitudes with respect to failure and blame, each of us can benefit from such reflection and discussion.    For example, think about challenging events or jobs in your career, and consider how you handled them. What could you have done better? Ask trusted colleagues, mentors or coaches   marc@mocoach4ldrs.com   )  to evaluate your reactions to, and explanations for, failures.  Pay close attention to the subtleties of how people respond to you in common workplace situations. Ask for informal feedback. If you’re in a managerial position, you may underestimate how what you say may be perceived as criticism, due to the hierarchical nature of your job.    What are your suggestions for improving self-awareness in the workplace? I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Failure is one of life’s most common traumas, yet people’s responses to it vary widely. Many managers have learned to reframe personal and departmental setbacks by stating: “There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities”—and it’s a great sentiment. In practice, however, their companies often continue to view failures in the most negative light.

Part of the problem lies in our natural tendency to blame. We perceive and react to failure inappropriately. How can we learn anything if our energy is tied up in either assigning or avoiding blame? Still others overreact with self-criticism, which leads to stagnation and fears of taking future risks.

One of the common things that come up frequently in my coaching sessions (coaching4ldrs.com) is dealing with mistakes and the excessive blaming that goes on in the work place.

In the 1930s, psychologist Saul Rosenzweig proposed three broad personality categories for how we experience anger and frustration:

1. Extrapunitive: Prone to unfairly blame others

2. Impunitive: Denies that failure has occurred or one’s own role in it

3. Intropunitive: Judges self too harshly and imagines failures where none exist

Extrapunitive responses are common in the business world. Because of socialization and other gender influences, women are more likely to be intropunitive.

Fortunately, managers at all organizational levels can repair their flawed responses to failure. Business consultants Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan suggest several highly effective steps in “Can You Handle Failure?” (Harvard Business Review, April 2011):

Cultivate Self-Awareness

First, identify which of the three blaming styles you use. (Note: They occur automatically and immediately, so they are unconscious emotional responses.)

1. Do you look to blame others?

2. Deny blame?

3. Blame yourself?

It’s hard for us to see our own personalities clearly, let alone our flaws. It’s harder still to learn from our mistakes if we’re caught up in the blame game.

Next, take at least one self-assessment test to help broaden your view of your interaction style. Two popular assessments are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Big Five Personality Test. (You can take a free version online at personal.psu.edu/j5j/IPIP/ipipneo120.htm.)

Finally, work with a coach or mentor (coaching4ldrs.com) to improve your level of self-awareness. While it takes some time to shine a light on our attitudes with respect to failure and blame, each of us can benefit from such reflection and discussion.

For example, think about challenging events or jobs in your career, and consider how you handled them. What could you have done better? Ask trusted colleagues, mentors or coaches marc@mocoach4ldrs.com) to evaluate your reactions to, and explanations for, failures.

Pay close attention to the subtleties of how people respond to you in common workplace situations. Ask for informal feedback. If you’re in a managerial position, you may underestimate how what you say may be perceived as criticism, due to the hierarchical nature of your job.

What are your suggestions for improving self-awareness in the workplace? I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment.

Bouncing Back with Optimism and Resilience

What do you tell yourself when you goof? Did you know we have a default explanatory style? Leave it to the psychologists and social scientists to study this one!  Actually, people working with clients in a managing or coaching role ( coaching4ldrs.com ), as I do, hear how individuals explain what happens to them frequently enough to spot such patterns.  Research clearly demonstrates that people who are naturally resilient have an  optimistic explanatory style —that is, they explain adversity in optimistic terms to avoid falling into feelings of helplessness.  Those who refuse to give up  routinely interpret setbacks as temporary, local and changeable :  · “The problem will resolve quickly…”  · “It’s just this one situation…”  · “I can do something about it…”  In contrast, individuals who have a pessimistic explanatory style respond to failure differently. They habitually think setbacks are permanent, universal and immutable:  · “Things are never going to be any different...”  · “This always happens to me...”  · “I can’t change things, no matter what...”  The scientist who's studied this the most is University of Pennsylvania psychology professor  Martin P. Seligman . He believes most people can be immunized against the negative thinking habits that may tempt them to give up after failure. In fact, 30 years of research suggests that  we can learn to be optimistic and resilient —often by changing our explanatory style.  Seligman is currently testing this premise with the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, a large-scale effort to make soldiers as psychologically fit as they are physically fit. One key component is the  Master Resilience Training  course for drill sergeants and other leaders, which emphasizes positive psychology, mental toughness, use of existing strengths and building strong relationships.  This military program will no doubt provide insights for civilians who wish to become more effective within their workplaces and organizations.  Resilience training may be able to prevent traumatic stress disorders for soldiers. I wonder what it can do for stressed out executives. Your comments welcome; what do you think?

What do you tell yourself when you goof? Did you know we have a default explanatory style? Leave it to the psychologists and social scientists to study this one!

Actually, people working with clients in a managing or coaching role (coaching4ldrs.com), as I do, hear how individuals explain what happens to them frequently enough to spot such patterns.

Research clearly demonstrates that people who are naturally resilient have an optimistic explanatory style—that is, they explain adversity in optimistic terms to avoid falling into feelings of helplessness.

Those who refuse to give up routinely interpret setbacks as temporary, local and changeable:

· “The problem will resolve quickly…”

· “It’s just this one situation…”

· “I can do something about it…”

In contrast, individuals who have a pessimistic explanatory style respond to failure differently. They habitually think setbacks are permanent, universal and immutable:

· “Things are never going to be any different...”

· “This always happens to me...”

· “I can’t change things, no matter what...”

The scientist who's studied this the most is University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Martin P. Seligman. He believes most people can be immunized against the negative thinking habits that may tempt them to give up after failure. In fact, 30 years of research suggests that we can learn to be optimistic and resilient—often by changing our explanatory style.

Seligman is currently testing this premise with the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, a large-scale effort to make soldiers as psychologically fit as they are physically fit. One key component is the Master Resilience Training course for drill sergeants and other leaders, which emphasizes positive psychology, mental toughness, use of existing strengths and building strong relationships.

This military program will no doubt provide insights for civilians who wish to become more effective within their workplaces and organizations.

Resilience training may be able to prevent traumatic stress disorders for soldiers. I wonder what it can do for stressed out executives. Your comments welcome; what do you think?

The Art of Bouncing Back - Your Response to Failure

How Do You Respond to Failure?    “Some of the most important and insightful learning is far more likely to come from failures than from success.”  ~ Former Procter & Gamble CEO  A.G. Lafley , interviewed in   Harvard Business Review (April 2011)    How we  respond to failures and bounce back  from our mistakes can make or break our careers. Resilience is a key to successful leadership. The wisdom of learning from failure is undeniable, yet individuals and organizations rarely seize opportunities to embrace these hard-earned lessons.  Harvard business professor  Rosabeth Moss Kanter  is unequivocal: “One difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing.” Even for the best companies and most accomplished professionals, long track records of success are inevitably marred by slips and fumbles.  Kanter has written many stories from business and sports about resilience in  Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streak Begin and End.   Our response to failure is often counterproductive: Behaviors become bad habits that set the stage for continued losses. Just as success creates positive momentum, failure can feed on itself. Add uncertainty and rapidly fluctuating economics to the mix, and one’s ability to find the right course is sorely tested.  Long-term winners and losers face the same ubiquitous problems, but they respond differently. Attitudes help determine whether problem-ridden businesses will ultimately recover.  Luckily, most of us can learn to become more resilient with training and coaching, visit my website at   coach4lrds.com     The Best of Times, the Worst of Times   Take the example of two typical MBA graduates in my coaching practice who were laid off from their positions during the recession. Both were distraught. Being fired provoked feelings of sadness, listlessness, indecisiveness and anxiety about the future.  For one, the mood was transient. Within two weeks he was telling himself, “It’s not my fault; it’s the economy. I’m good at what I do, and there’s a market for my skills.” He updated his resume and, after several failed attempts, finally landed a position.  The other spiraled further into hopelessness. “I got fired because I can’t perform well under pressure,” he lamented. “I’m not cut out for finance; the economy will take years to recover.” Even after the market improved, he was reluctant to apply for positions and feared rejection.  How these individuals handled failure illustrates opposite ends of the spectrum. Some people bounce back after a brief period of malaise and grow from their experiences. Others go from sadness to depression to crippling fear of failure—and in business, inertia and fear of risk invite collapse.  A great resource for understanding how our minds work as illustrated by the above example is   Mindset     by Carol Dweck Ph.D. This work clarifies the power of our brains and how to develop disciplines and our ability to manage our thinking. When we discipline our mind we increase our ability to get where we desire to go!  The Bible is full or guidance with regards to our mindset. Paul’s guidance in to the Philippians encourages readers: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Phil 4:8. Throughout the Bible we are admonished to disciple our minds while remembering God wants our best even when we cannot see the best or even the good.  Author and pastor  John Maxwell  writes on the idea of mindset in his book  Failing Forward . This work encourages readers towards an understanding that failing is our friend. He helps his audience learn that how we perceive our failing is teachable and learnable.  Especially in these uncertain times when your next failure may be just around the corner, it's worth spending some time with your coach ( marc@mo coach4ldrs.com   )  to learn how you can become more resilient. Ask me about this if you're interested in learning how…

How Do You Respond to Failure?

“Some of the most important and insightful learning is far more likely to come from failures than from success.” ~ Former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley, interviewed in Harvard Business Review (April 2011)

How we respond to failures and bounce back from our mistakes can make or break our careers. Resilience is a key to successful leadership. The wisdom of learning from failure is undeniable, yet individuals and organizations rarely seize opportunities to embrace these hard-earned lessons.

Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter is unequivocal: “One difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing.” Even for the best companies and most accomplished professionals, long track records of success are inevitably marred by slips and fumbles.

Kanter has written many stories from business and sports about resilience in Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streak Begin and End.

Our response to failure is often counterproductive: Behaviors become bad habits that set the stage for continued losses. Just as success creates positive momentum, failure can feed on itself. Add uncertainty and rapidly fluctuating economics to the mix, and one’s ability to find the right course is sorely tested.

Long-term winners and losers face the same ubiquitous problems, but they respond differently. Attitudes help determine whether problem-ridden businesses will ultimately recover.

Luckily, most of us can learn to become more resilient with training and coaching, visit my website at coach4lrds.com

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Take the example of two typical MBA graduates in my coaching practice who were laid off from their positions during the recession. Both were distraught. Being fired provoked feelings of sadness, listlessness, indecisiveness and anxiety about the future.

For one, the mood was transient. Within two weeks he was telling himself, “It’s not my fault; it’s the economy. I’m good at what I do, and there’s a market for my skills.” He updated his resume and, after several failed attempts, finally landed a position.

The other spiraled further into hopelessness. “I got fired because I can’t perform well under pressure,” he lamented. “I’m not cut out for finance; the economy will take years to recover.” Even after the market improved, he was reluctant to apply for positions and feared rejection.

How these individuals handled failure illustrates opposite ends of the spectrum. Some people bounce back after a brief period of malaise and grow from their experiences. Others go from sadness to depression to crippling fear of failure—and in business, inertia and fear of risk invite collapse.

A great resource for understanding how our minds work as illustrated by the above example is Mindset by Carol Dweck Ph.D. This work clarifies the power of our brains and how to develop disciplines and our ability to manage our thinking. When we discipline our mind we increase our ability to get where we desire to go!

The Bible is full or guidance with regards to our mindset. Paul’s guidance in to the Philippians encourages readers: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Phil 4:8. Throughout the Bible we are admonished to disciple our minds while remembering God wants our best even when we cannot see the best or even the good.

Author and pastor John Maxwell writes on the idea of mindset in his book Failing Forward. This work encourages readers towards an understanding that failing is our friend. He helps his audience learn that how we perceive our failing is teachable and learnable.

Especially in these uncertain times when your next failure may be just around the corner, it's worth spending some time with your coach (marc@mocoach4ldrs.com) to learn how you can become more resilient. Ask me about this if you're interested in learning how…